While Star Wars fans will be waiting a few more months to see the franchise's next adventures on the big screen, TV fans are just around the corner from the latest and possibly greatest season yet of Star Wars Rebels. Season 3 will again build upon the previous year's deepening storyline, but things are heading in a much different direction, and it's largely in an effort to begin tying this part of the universe back up with Episode IV: A New Hope. Here's how Star Wars Rebels executive producer and showrunner Dave Filoni explained his inspiration.

A lot of [Season 3] is centered on one line [in A New Hope]. Tarkin tells Vader the fire of the Jedi has gone out of the universe. So you have to start to enter this period where it seems like the rule of the day isn't people who wield the Force but it's more people that are controlling military might and starfleets. They seem to be the ones in control by the time of A New Hope.

Brilliant, right? I mean, not in the sense that Dave Filoni is the only person who ever made a prequel before, but going down this particular path with Star Wars Rebels Season 3 will not only create more of the canon fabric between the first two trilogies, but it will present one of the biggest transition points in the entire franchise. A New Hope is something of an underdog story, with Luke having to find it within himself to save the day - with the help of Han Solo, who was born knowing he had what it took to do anything - but it'll be interesting to watch the Jedi actually losing the upper hand. (Not intentionally a Skywalker pun.)

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One way in which that militarized aspect will be emboldened is by the introduction of one Grand Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant strategist who will definitely be a huge threat to Ezra and the crew. Here's what Filoni told io9 about officially adding the fan favorite character into the fold.

We didn't just insert another Force-wielder here. We didn't just create another kind of lightsaber. You can only go to that well so many times. Now it was time for the Imperial Military.

A character from the expanded Star Wars universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn has an intriguing role to play in this narrative, as he's completely militant in his mindset, without any familial connections other tangential tethers to anyone with the good guys. He's there to destroy rebels and perhaps take names, depending on his secretarial prowess. In a show that already features the big bads Darth Vader and Darth Maul, it should take quite the effort to stand tall as a villain, but it should be easy for this blue bastard. I know there are Star Wars fans out there that already have their Thrawn cosplay set up, and I'm jealous.

grand admiral thrawn

If Star Wars Rebels is setting the stage for another slumber of the Force, I wonder how that will play into the future of the animated series, and how closely it will get to the beginning of A New Hope's Galactic tyranny. Considering how popular it is, I can't imagine anyone involved setting up an actual end game just yet, but the stories do have to end at some point, so that the next opening scrawl can begin. We know Rebels will also have ties to other Star Wars films of the future, but Filoni wasn't quite as eager to talk about how that will be happening.

With a lot to clear up after that crazy Season 2 finale that put these characters in quite precarious situations, Star Wars Rebels will make its grand (admiral) debut on Disney XD on Saturday, September 24, at 8:30 p.m. ET. Use the Force to check out our fall TV schedule, or just click on the link.

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